Old (2021)
Old (2021)

Genre: Horror and Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 48 min.

Release Date: July 23rd, 2021 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: M. Night Shyamalan Actors: Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Aaron Pierre, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Francesca Eastwood

 


 

“C

an you believe I found this online?” An Anamika Resort bus takes actuary Guy (Gael Garcia Bernal), his museum curator wife Prisca (Vicky Krieps), and their children Trent and Maddox to a paradisiacal hotel to begin a long-awaited, much-needed, three-day vacation. From custom drinks to a room full of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking tropical greenery and golden beaches to swathes of friendly sunbathers, the family can’t get enough of this magnificent retreat. “This is much better than Cancun!”

During their first breakfast, the manager suggests a private beach on the nature preserve side of the island, where only special guests are invited. After a short drive and a shorter walk, Guy and his family – along with fellow vacationers Charles (Rufus Sewell), his mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant), wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee), and little daughter Kara – behold a quiet, spacious, beautifully secluded cove. There, they frolic and play throughout the day, happy and carefree, until a nude body washes ashore, which understandably disturbs their tranquility. And that’s just the first of several disquieting occurrences – before sudden, rapid aging sets in.

“I know you’ve been stressed. Don’t let this upset you.” Isolation, blackouts, injuries, mental anxieties, and general distrust among strangers are effective predicaments to assuage the outrageousness of the main premise. Thankfully, to the credit of the actors, they all take the situation seriously; despite a clearly fantastical, wholly unexplainable phenomenon, their believable distress and panic help to sell the escalating troubles. And those woes definitely increase in a cinematically frightening way; with M. Night Shyamalan in the director’s chair, there are a handful of jump scares and brief moments of body horror, yet it’s chiefly psychological terrors that permeate this thriller, which tend to be heavier hitting than visual yucks (especially considering that several shocks – though not all – are largely obscured or take place offscreen, possibly due to the restrictive PG-13 rating).

The fear of old people may not be common, but it certainly exists – a useful marketing gimmick, despite not featuring significantly here. And the fear of getting old is also quite real, though it will affect audiences who are already in advanced years to a greater degree. Undoubtedly, failures of an aging body and dwindling good looks – or the opposite side of things, with youngsters careening past their formative years – can be realistic concerns for many viewers. But most horrifying of all are the universal feelings of hopelessness and futility and loss of control; when the characters reach a moderate understanding of their plight, the idea that they may not find a solution is yet another genuine dread. The simplicity of the basic plot is handled well (the running time is still a touch overlong), while the pervasive morbidity generates consistent entertainment value. And though a few sequences might be unintentionally funny, the film is routinely engaging, mostly capable of overcoming the anticipated twist at the conclusion and the uninspired resolution, which are drawn-out and not entirely satisfying (and a grand departure from the graphic novel source material).

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10